Rolling Back the Regulations

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

As we’ve said before, the 115th Congress is off to the races. While the Senate has been busy confirming the president’s nominees, the House has been diligently working to limit agency reach by rolling back specific rules.

Below are highlights of two rules you should know about. We are tracking them, so you don’t have to.

OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

Give me the basics:

  • 12/16/16: The Occupational Health and Safety Administration finalized a rule extending the timeframe that employers have to keep records of workplace injuries or incidents from six months to five years.
  • The rule allowed an agency to cite employers for record-keeping violations that go as far back as five years.

Why should I care?

  • The rule could add a significant cost to the management of workplace safety and workers’ compensation programs for employers, and does nothing to improve workplace safety and health.

What’s the status?

  • Last week, the House halted the rule from taking effect.
  • This rule repeal now heads to the Senate where it is expected to pass.
  • More information about the repeal of the rule can be found in WIPP’s statement here.

Contractor Blacklisting Rule

Give me the basics:

  • The rule finalized in October required contractors and subcontractors to disclose violations of 14 federal labor and employment laws, and state equivalents, when bidding on a contract. Requiring a DOL employee to clear prospective contractors would add an additional step, resulting in likely losing the award.
  • While a federal judge halted implementation of most of the rule in October, this Congressional repeal would halt the rule for good.

Why should I care?

  • WIPP’s official comment on the rule highlighted concerns that the rule went too far, and may do more harm than good

What’s the status?

  • This week, the Senate followed the House in voting to repeal the U.S. Department of Labor Fair Pay, Safe Workplaces rule, also known as the Contractor Blacklisting Rule.
  • President Trump is expected to sign the repeal into law

March Madness: A Policy Version—The Elite Eight

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

For many years, my son Matt and I watched March Madness together (that was until he moved to Los Angeles). Not only are many of the games squeakers, I love the upsets and Cinderella teams that emerge during the tournament. Half of the fun is filling out the brackets and guessing which teams will move forward.

So, in honor of March madness, we bring you March policy madness. We have created a policy bracket of the issues we expect will make it past the first round of Congressional action. Just for fun.

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Here’s an explanation of the Policy Brackets:

Upper Left: Healthcare vs. Border Wall

President Trump’s Executive Actions have identified both repeal of Obamacare and the potential construction of a border wall. Congressional attention is focused on repealing and or replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Healthcare wins this round.

Upper Left: Regulatory Reform vs. FY2018 Appropriations

Congress is hungry to take back policy-making power from the Executive Branch and has found a sweet spot—rolling back regulations—a move President Trump agrees with. He has already signed legislation repealing a Department of Interior rule and is expected to sign more repeals in the coming months.

On the other hand, appropriations is a long and cumbersome process. To get started, on Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations, President Trump needs to share a budget outline with Congress expected next month, and both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will need to pass all 11 appropriations bills by the end of September. This is a process that has not occurred in over 20 years.

Regulatory reform wins this round.

Lower Left: Trade vs. Supreme Court Nominee

President Trump has indicated that reforming trade policy is a high priority.  But revamping global trade deals into bilateral negotiations will prove to be complicated. The Supreme Court vacancy, on the other hand, has been top of mind. Some Senate Democrats have privately conceded that they expect Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed, taking the place of Antonin Scalia.

The bracket goes to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Lower Left: Debt Ceiling v. Government Shutdown

Toward the end of the summer, the Treasury Department will have exhausted all “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the government’s bills. Once again, Congress will need to raise the debt ceiling. This close-to-annual exercise used to be non-controversial. But not anymore. This is an opportunity for Congress to discuss fiscal policy.

Another opportunity to discuss fiscal policy is the expiration of the Continuing Resolution on April 28th. In the past, government shutdowns have been threatened/executed, putting continued funding of the government at risk. Given that both Houses of Congress and the president are from the same party, it doesn’t seem likely that shutting down the government is an option. That being said, crazier things have happened in Washington.

Due to timing, debt ceiling wins by a single foul shot.

Upper Right: Taxes vs. Immigration

Tax reform, a priority of both the president and the Congress, is long overdue. In fact, comprehensive tax reform has not been successful since 1986. But don’t look for action overnight. Congressional Republicans are suggesting it will be undertaken sometime this fall.

On the other hand, immigration is even more contentious and bipartisan reform plans were last successful in 1996 under President Clinton. Since then, although there have been many efforts, reform has been elusive.

Tax wins this round.

Upper Right: Defense Spending vs. Infrastructure

Appropriators are currently preparing a special supplemental funding bill for the Defense Department and President Trump announced he would like to add $54 billion to the defense budget. The infrastructure bill hasn’t gained as much traction as the rhetoric about its importance.

Defense spending wins this round.

Lower right: FY17 Omnibus Appropriations vs. NDAA

The National Defense Authorization Act has a 55-year history of being signed into law each year. It is considered in Congress a “must pass” bill. Omnibus appropriations that combine multiple appropriations into a single bill have a spotty record at best. While Omnibus appropriations passed in Fiscal Year 2016, it is still unclear how the rest of FY17 will be funded. Because no one is quite sure, we declare NDAA the winner.

NDAA wins this round.

Lower right: Spending Cuts vs. Elimination of a Federal Agency

President Trump made a campaign promise to significantly decrease agency spending and is expected to propose major cuts in the FY2018 budget. Although eliminating agencies is possible, it is easier to starve an agency than eliminate it altogether.

Spending cuts win this round.

The Elite Eight issues that we predict will prevail to the next round in Washington are:

  • Regulatory Reform
  • Healthcare
  • Supreme Court Appointment
  • Debt Ceiling
  • Tax
  • Defense spending
  • NDAA
  • Spending Cuts

In Washington policy circles, representing women-owned businesses is often like rooting for the underdog. Women across the country who have joined our voice often end up winning the policy fight even though they are dismissed in the “first round.” But collectively, we can end up being the winners who bring home the victory. Not just for us, but for those who have come before us and those that are coming behind us.

Which issues do you think will score over the coming month? Tweet at us @WIPPWeDecide #DCelite8 with your predictions for the Final Policy Four.

Pamela O’Rourke, WIPP’s National Partner of the Month – March 2017

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Pamela O’Rourke, president and CEO of ICON information Consultants, serves on WIPP’s board of directors and has been a strong supporter of the organization through her leadership and generous contributions of time and fiscal support. Indeed, Pamela became WIPP’s very first donor to earn the “Trailblazer” title in February by contributing $10,000 to support our education work and advocacy on behalf of women business owners in Washington, D.C.

It’s thanks to people like Pamela that WIPP thrives. Thank you, Pamela!

Q Tell us a little about ICON and its mission.

A ICON Information Consultants, LP, is a Houston-based, woman-owned (WBENC Certified) staffing and payrolling firm. ICON has provided recruitment and payrolling solutions for 19 years and has over 3,500 contractors on staff daily within the US and Canada. Our primary services include Contract, Contract-to-Hire, and Direct Hire Staffing services, Payrolling services, Independent Contractor Compliance and Management services, and Specialized IT Project Management services. We target clients in the Fortune 100 and 500 arena. Some of our clients include Bank of America, John Hancock, Exelon, Deutsche Bank, NRG Reliant Energy, Shell, Halliburton, HP, Waste Management, Schlumberger, Lyondell/Basell, among many others throughout the nation. Simply put, ICON’s mission is to become the best human capital solutions firm in the US.

Q Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what inspired you to take the leap?

A Even before ICON’s inception, I maintained a firm belief that clients deserve more. Make the client happy while always doing the right thing, such as staying late, providing outstanding service internally and out, and doing the best job the first time. I realized while working for other firms that the level of service I wanted to provide was far superior to that which was requested of me. At that time, I saw a window of opportunity to channel my energy and work ethic towards a new business venture. As banks accredit no value to best intentions and denied my loan request since “people are not tangible assets,” I created a business plan and solicited two groups of friends to invest in the start-up. Between my own investment and the money I raised, in 1998, I opened ICON Information Consultants LP with $250,000 in capital. I then gave myself six months to make it work.

Q Have you encountered any challenges you had to overcome as a business woman and if so, what have you learned from them?

A ICON Information Consultants began its journey as a human capital procurement firm in the area of Information Technology. IT has always been a male-dominated field, and my approach and tenacity have broken through a few glass ceilings to ensure ICON remains at the top of our clients’ lists (recently, Bank of America noted ICON Information Consultants as their “favorite supplier”). I learned one of my biggest lessons when I first started to hire people. As an entrepreneur, I realized early on that in order to be at the top of my industry, I must build a team that shares my hunger to continuously learn and improve. As a team, we need to be ready, because competitors are poised to seize any opportunities left open. That’s why I survey the competition to ensure that ICON’s competitive advantage is consistently one step ahead of the curve (if not two).

Q Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it!

A The first few years of ICON Information Consultant’s existence forms the basis of my success story. Between my own investment and the money that I raised, in 1998, we opened the business with $250,000 in capital. I gave myself six months to make it work. Choosing to work only with Fortune 100 and 500 corporations because of their significant investment in state-of-the-art technology, I managed to cross over into the midmarket range within months. I thought I was going to do $70,000 my first year, but I did $2.5 million. The next year was $7.7 million. The third year was $11.7 million, then $14 million and $16 million. In 2016, revenues exceeded $270 million. That’s how glass ceilings are shattered.

Q Do you have any tips you would like to share with other women pursuing entrepreneurship?

A Get out of your comfort zone and make contacts. Once you have a prospective client’s undivided attention, know what you need to do to get on their radar, be direct with what you do and make sure they know why you’re great. Always remember: be yourself, relax, and bring lots of business cards.

Everyone Wants to Know: What’s the Top Small Biz Issue for Congress?

By Jennifer White, WIPP Government Relations

What is the number one thing small business owners want Congress to focus on this year? Is a lack of political certainty affecting America’s business environment? What can be done to better help women and minorities obtain capital to start their businesses? These are the questions the House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access discussed during a hearing entitled “State of the Small Business Economy,” giving the committee the opportunity to listen to testimony on concerns confronting small business owners in 2017.

To no one’s surprise, the committee heard that the most taxing issues to small business right now are healthcare deficiencies, tax reform, and regulatory reform. Chairman Bland posed the question, “In addressing these issues, where should we spend the most time?”

Holly Wade, Director of Research and Policy Analysis for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), said you can’t pick just one. According to NFIB’s 2016 Small Business Problems and Priorities Survey, health insurance is the number one issue plaguing small business, directly followed by burdensome regulations and federal taxes. The small business economy, she said, has struggled to bounce back from the recession due to taxes, regulations, and health insurance, which consume valuable resources, including time and profits. To restore the small business economy, all three of these issues must take priority.

Another common denominator heard in each witness’ testimony was concern over lack of policy and regulatory certainty regarding the business environment. Steve Veuger, resident scholar from the American Enterprise Institute, said that despite measures such as passage of the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, requiring more careful consideration of rules and regulations and how they affect small business, measures of uncertainty have spiked in the last few months. Mr. Veuger also pointed out that Congress must be careful in the repeal and replacement of the ACA; to move forward without a clear policy direction, he said, could cause individual and small group markets to unravel in a detrimental way.

Members of the subcommittee also asked about the difficulty women and minorities still face in regard to obtaining jobs and accessing capital. According to Victor Hwang, vice president of entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, an important part of that issue is that while the U.S. is increasingly becoming more racially diverse, the American entrepreneurial population does not reflect it. Today, 80.2 percent of American entrepreneurs are white and 64.5 percent are male. Mr. Hwang said that gap for racial minorities and women is costing the country millions of jobs and that the key to increasing diversity in entrepreneurship is overcoming social barriers such as race, gender, or a lack of a formal degree that can prevent individuals from turning an idea into a business reality.

Further, Bob Bland, CEO and founder of Manufacture New York, and the co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, relayed her own struggles of accessing capital because of past credit. Even with great programs it can still be difficult for women to get loans, she said, because they still don’t qualify for low interest rates, and need something that provides for more risk like venture capital, which can be even harder to obtain. Mr. Hwang agreed that access to venture capital is not on a level playing field. He suggested that building more opportunities for connections at a local level based on trust would be a core way of getting obtaining capital to a level playing field.

“Being an entrepreneur is hard and there are risks associated–it’s the spirit of being able to take a loss that makes America great—what can we do to spread the risk so that everyone everywhere has the opportunity to be one?” asked Rep. Kelly as the final question of the hearing. We educate people on how to find jobs, not how to make jobs, answered Mr. Hwang. To understand the access issues entrepreneurs face, we have to focus on the people who are starting at the bottom with nothing.

74,000 Pages of Tax Talk

By Mark Lee, WIPP Government Relations

The U.S. Tax Code is a 74,000-page maze of sections, clauses, deductions, and exemptions. Small business owners certainly do not have the time to learn every twist and turn, clause and section in the code. Not only do entrepreneurs have to keep their doors open, take care of their employees, and keep on the right side of state and local regulations, but they must also submit detailed filings to the IRS that vary across the spectrum of the small business ecosystem. So, what should be done to streamline the code and lessen the burden on our nation’s small business community?

The House Small Business Committee (HSBC) held an appropriately titled hearing, “Start-ups Stalling? The Tax Code as a Barrier to Entrepreneurship,” to begin to tackle this issue. The HSBC is one of the more bipartisan committees in the House, so it was no surprise that both Chair Steve Chabot of Ohio and Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez of New York were in general agreement that the tax code is desperately in need of reform and simplification.

The hearing was convened at a time when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was busy whipping up support for a comprehensive federal tax code overhaul—one not seen since the Reagan Administration. Ranking Member Velazquez made it clear that small businesses must be at the forefront of any tax overhaul. Since pass-throughs, S-Corps, and LLCs are all subject to different tax regimes, Rep. Velazquez mentioned simple business formation is one of the first complicated tax hurdles that an entrepreneur must clear.

Additionally, startups and small businesses are often operating in the red or on very slim revenue margins so an unexpected hurdle could potentially be ruinous. Chair Chabot asked the panel about the cost of compliance and the fear of audits. As we all know, most small businesses do their taxes in-house and cannot afford accountants and tax attorneys. The panel unanimously agreed that this was among the most pressing tax burdens they face. Witness Tim Reynolds. The president of Tribune, Inc. of Hudson, Ohio, testifying on behalf of the National Small Business Association, recounted his own recent audit costs. His small firm paid thousands of dollars in compliance costs alone: a number that doesn’t account for the lost business and revenue that resulted from the audit process. Other witnesses included Mr. Kyle Pomerleau, director of Federal Projects at the Tax Foundation; Troy Lewis, CPA, CGMA and immediate past chair of the American Institute of CPAs’ Tax Executive Committee, and David Burton, senior fellow of economic policy at the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity at the Heritage Foundation.

In an already wild start to a new Administration and Congress, tax reform remains near the top of both of their agendas. Small businesses everywhere are rightfully screaming for relief. We need to stay on top of advocating for tax reform that is a less burdensome regulatory regime for our nation’s vital job creators.

 

It’s a Big MACs World

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

Earlier this week, WIPP submitted comments on a proposed rule changing the rules related to small business participation on multiple award contracts, also known as MACs.

The FAR Council, which oversees federal acquisition regulations, sought to clarify the use of set-asides, reserves, and orders placed against MACs. As contractors already know, use of these large contracts is steadily growing. Ensuring all socioeconomic groups, including women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) have access to these opportunities, is a top priority for WIPP.

The rule adds coverage for the new concept of a “reserve.” A reserve would be used on MACs where a partial set-aside is not feasible, but where agencies still want small businesses to participate as prime contractors. This “reserve” concept is very similar to the tracks outlined in WIPP’s Do Not Enter report, which shows how agencies have utilized certain socio-economic set-asides, and discriminated against women-owned firms.

While the proposal provides clarity for contracting officers, it falls short by including an out-of-date policy regarding the limitations on subcontracting. In May 2016, the Small Business Administration finalized a rule change that substantially revised the limitations on subcontracting by making it easier for women-owned firms to comply. The new rule focuses on the percentage of the award amount that has been subcontracted, not the percentage of work. The rule also provides an exemption for similarly situated entities, so WOSBs subcontracting to other WOSBs does not count against the percentage of the award subcontracted. This new policy is a win-win for small businesses, but the FAR Council does not acknowledge the new policy in its rule. If one of the purposes of the rule is to clarify small business authorities for contracting officers, the FAR should use the most up-to-date performance of work requirements.

WIPP appreciates the interest of the FAR Council in providing greater flexibility and clarity for the role of small businesses in multiple award contracts. But this proposed rule does not do enough. Without additional small business protections, this rule could hurt our nation’s biggest job creators- small businesses.

WIPPs full comments on the rule can be found here.

Reimagining Health Care

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

Affordability, predictability, and flexibility were three themes reiterated at the Feb. 7 hearing held by the House Committee on Small Business entitled “Reimagining the Health Care Marketplace for America’s Small Business.” It was held for the purpose of taking a look at the current marketplace and its recent difficulties, and to explore options to improve access, affordability, and consistency.

While no clear legislative path has yet been paved, many facts, figures, and ideas were floated around regarding how to ensure that small business is not an afterthought in the revamping of the healthcare system. Solutions presented and discussed at the hearing included tax credits for small business, across state line coverage, and Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements.

Here is more about the items discussed.

  • Tax credits for the self-employed: As the Tax Code currently stands, self-employed individuals are restricted from deducting their health insurance premiums. Small, self-employed business owners end up paying more for health insurance because their premiums are not treated the same for taxes as other businesses.

Leveling the playing field by giving these small businesses tax credits would improve affordability for small business owners, as well as expand the pool of coverage, according to Keith Hall of the National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE).

  • Across state line coverage: The number of insurers participating in the marketplace varies widely from state to state, as do the number of coverage plans. The lack of competition among insurers in the current exchanges decreases pressure to keep costs down.

Mr. Hall of the NASE believes that allowing for the sale of health insurance across state lines will boost competition, driving costs down. In order for this to happen, Congress will have to enact a health plan that will modify the existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines.

  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): A provision of a law signed into Congress last session allows small employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees that do not offer a group health plan to fund employee HRAs to pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses and for non-group plan health insurance premiums, including plans purchased on the public health care exchanges.

Allowing small businesses to offer a bare bones plan and HSAs would allow individuals to decide the best choice for themselves and their families, according to Tom Secor of Durable Corporation, who testified on behalf of the National Small Business Association (NSBA).

This hearing was the first of a continuing series that will take place on the discussion of healthcare repeal and replacement. To read full written testimony from each witness here.

Gloria Larkin, WIPP’s National Partner of the Month – February 2017

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Gloria Larkin, president of TargetGov, has been a staunch ally of WIPP for years. She leads GiveMe5 webinars, responds quickly and effectively to WIPP’s calls to action, and is always on the lookout for new WIPP members. It’s thanks to people like Gloria that WIPP thrives!

Read our Q&A with Gloria to learn more about her and her work.

Q: Tell us a little about TargetGov and its mission

A: TargetGov is celebrating its 20th year in business in 2017! Our mission is to help small, mid-sized and large government contractors win business and aggressively grow their companies. Our clients have won over $3.9 billion in federal contracts in just the last five years.

Q: Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what inspired you to take the leap?

A: I have been both an employee and an entrepreneur. I took the leap 20 years ago because I wanted to do something that no one else was doing—help businesses see great success and increase their revenues with a targeted, proactive marketing and business development process.

Q: Have you encountered challenges you had to overcome as a business woman and if so, what have you learned from them?

A: The challenges have been constant, and access to capital is one of the biggest. Through the years, I have had several business loans to grow my business, and none of them were the amount I asked for. It’s an issue even to this day. In applying for a line of credit, I was offered less than half of what I thought it should be. I had the chutzpah to say exactly the amount I thought they should give me (more than double what they offered) and was pleasantly surprised that they agreed. In the past I wouldn’t have pushed, but now, I do.

Q: Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it!

A: My proudest moments are when our clients contact us and tell us of their awarded contracts and successful business growth. It feels like my children are successful and I am one proud parent! The first billion was a heady milestone. Now as we see the four-billion milestone coming this year, we are ecstatic about their success!

Q: What is the biggest lesson learned working with the federal government?

A: The biggest lesson is that the federal government market is constantly changing. The rules and regulations are burdensome, yes, but success is predicated on having a strategy and plan that addresses this constant change and adapts proactively, with a trackable, measureable and scalable process. Seeing it work in real life is extraordinary!

Q: Do you have any tips you would like to share with women pursuing federal contracts?

A: This is a demanding market and one must be well prepared, have a well-thought-out roadmap, the discipline to execute it, and measurable actions to track success. This is truly the market in which you can think BIG and see results. But it takes effort and knowledge; use the experts to help you!

Q: Tell us about your experience as a WIPP member. What resources and value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?

A: WIPP has truly changed my life. I started getting involved as a committee chair, then learned how to talk to my Congress people. I participated in virtually every area WIPP works in and found a home on the procurement committee. Then I worked my way onto the government board, and then to Chair of the Educational Foundation. Thanks to WIPP, I have testified before the House Small Business Committee, and traveled to more than 15 states and had lifetime trips to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Japan and Oxford, England to speak or work with women in those counties. Working to start the GiveMe5 program, and supporting it through the years has been a great highlight. WIPP has impacted more than 30,000 women business owners through GiveMe5! And I am deeply honored to have many WIPP members as clients and heart-felt friends.

Guest Post: ONBOARD Program Revolutionizing the Board Diversity Problem

By Michael Morales, White House Fellow, U.S. Small Business Administration

Diversity of thought and experience on corporate leadership teams boost company innovation, resiliency and growth. Gender and racially diverse individuals, for example, bring a variety of thought to their workplaces by virtue of their backgrounds and experiences.

A 2015 McKinsey study of 366 public companies in the Unites States, United Kingdom, Canada and Latin America, titled “Diversity Matters,” found that “diversity is a competitive differentiator that shifts market share towards more diverse companies.” It determined that companies in the top quartile of gender and racial diversity were 15 percent and 35 percent (respectively) more likely to have financial returns above the national industry median.

Unfortunately, despite this strong correlation between diversity and performance, today’s corporate boardrooms do not reflect the diversity of our population. McKinsey’s study concluded that women account for just 16 percent of executive team members in the United States and that 97 percent of American companies have senior leadership teams that fail to reflect the demographic composition of the country’s labor force and population.

Many organizations and experts passionate about addressing this issue have concluded this is a demand rather than a supply problem. I agree. My own work in this space has exposed me to a deep pool of diverse talent and domain expertise ready and eager to contribute their ideas and experiences to corporate boards across the country.

On the demand side, however, the fact is that public companies, particularly those in the Fortune 1000 cohort, do not have high boardroom turnover and are unlikely to add board seats simply to diversify their executive teams. In addition, boardroom recruitment is largely a word-of-mouth exercise demonstrating that who knows you often matters as much as what you know.

To address the demand issue, while continuing to develop and grow the supply side of the diverse talent equation, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) developed a new initiative: the Open Network for Board Diversity (ONBOARD). We approached LinkedIn as a partner in this important initiative, not only because LinkedIn has the ideal platform for the type of group we are trying to nurture, but because they too are serious about addressing the lack of diversity and inclusion in the labor force. We also sought a group of diverse organizations passionate about board diversity as charter organizations and recognized these partners at our ONBOARD launch event at the Library of Congress on Oct. 13, 2016.

ONBOARD addresses the demand side of board diversity through its Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program. As one of the largest fund-of-funds in the country, the SBIC program seeks to partners with venture capitalists, private equity funds and other vehicles that invest in America’s high growth small business. Since the program’s inception in 1958, it has deployed more than $84 billion of capital in over 174,000 small business investments. Last year, the SBIC program provided $6 billion in financing to 1,200 small businesses. Some of America’s most iconic brands, such as Apple, Intel, FedEx, Tesla, Whole Foods, and Pandora received SBIC funding.

SBICs, and the companies in which they invest, are fertile ground to increase boardroom diversity. Why? SBIC portfolio companies are among our most innovative, rapidly growing and adapting, but in some cases are just creating their corporate or advisory board or have boards where everyone has the same last name. The ONBOARD group on LinkedIn is an ideal place for these companies to find diverse talent and domain expertise vital to their company’s continued growth. The members of our partner organizations are the very talent that these companies need.

As the ONBOARD group grows (we are almost at 700 members to date), we will continue to advertise this talented group with our SBICs. So far, the feedback from SBICs has been overwhelmingly positive.

Furthermore, the valuable content, webinars and events accessible to ONBOARD members makes the group a vital resource for those either looking for greater board opportunities, or who are eager to contribute their expertise to a board for the first time. We are in the midst of a three-part webinar series entitled “Be Board Ready,” the first of which focused on creating your own board value proposition. We encourage you to the join the ONBOARD group (click HERE). We welcome your ideas on how to make this important initiative into something revolutionary.

10 Things You Should Know From the Linda McMahon Hearing

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

On Jan. 24, the Senate Small Business Committee held a hearing on the confirmation of Linda McMahon (former WWE CEO), to become Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Here are the 10 things you should know about her hearing:

  1. SBA is still part of the cabinet—President Obama elevated the position of SBA Administrator to cabinet level. President Trump is sticking with that change.
  2. Existing programs are safe…for now—When questioned by numerous senators on specific program commitments, McMahon repeatedly said that if the program is working then it should be continued.
  3. She will go to bat for small business in the executive branch—McMahon sees herself as the small business advocate within the executive branch, and will go to other agencies and make sure that more federal contracting opportunities are provided to small businesses.
  4. She will work to expand the 5% contracting goal for women—Senator Duckworth (IL), asked about the 5% goal, and McMahon expressed support for women entrepreneurs, broadly, “I have been very forthcoming in wanting women entrepreneurship to grow. And I will continue to support that, it is very near and dear to my heart.”
  5. She has a history working with Veterans—According to McMahon, WWE was always concerned about veterans and how to help create jobs for them. Senator Cardin (MD) discussed the Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP) program and noted its impact and high performance.
  6. Look for an emphasis on mentoring—Given McMahon’s background in business mentoring, she may focus on programs that incorporate mentorship. As co-founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE, McMahon’s organization educates entrepreneurs about all facets of starting and expanding their business.
  7. She wants to help free small businesses from burdensome regulations—While many senators asked questions about regulatory burdens on small businesses, Senator Ernst brought up the PROVE It Act—legislation passed out of committee last session that empowers the SBA Office of Advocacy to require agencies to analyze rules for their small business impact.
  8. Speaking of advocacy—McMahon expressed support for expanding the independent SBA Office of Advocacy to ensure that the voice of small business is heard on federal regulations.
  9. She wants small businesses to participate in anticipated Infrastructure projects—When asked about promoting fair opportunities for small businesses to compete for work in the highly anticipated infrastructure plan, McMahon stated that small business participation was a given.
  10. Streamlining cumbersome federal contracting—McMahon expressed support for streamlining the alphabet soup of federal websites and databases like SAM and FBO.

This was a conciliatory confirmation hearing. Given the contentious nature of other confirmation hearings, it was unknown what tone McMahon’s hearing would take. But the hearing went well. Senators were polite and McMahon was responsive to concerns. With so much partisanship in Washington, it was positive to see McMahon’s interest in working with the committee—both sides.